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Designing groupware applications: A work centered approach, Kate Ehrlich

groupware == groupwork
communication, meetings, info. sharing, coordinating work processes

how work processes differ from from work practices
methodologies for finding this out:
  1. Ethnography
  2. Participatory Design
  3. Action Research
can be used for:
identify new product opps, eval. of existing technologies, input to design specifications

work communication is:
  1. informal
  2. awareness (synchronous or asynchronous)
  3. anonymity

Deployment and adoption:
  1. org. preparedness
  2. incentives and motivation
  3. critical mass

TeamRoom case study lessons learned:
  1. georgraphically distributed team
  2. strong leadership
  3. well defined team

Computer-supported cooperative work: History and focus, Jonathan Grudin
BibTex: grudinhistory

Article presents history of cscw and examines regional differences. Traces to about 1984. Groupware more identified with commercial products, cscw more research into experimental systems. Highlights interdisciplinary issues and problems of communication. Since CSCW addresses work in real environments (and not necessarily computer work) this is a fundamental issue.

Europe (non US, really) much more academic, government sponsored work. In US, companies fund lots of academic work (more than goverment?). This heavily influences types of applications developed. European work driven more by welfare state (workers replaced by automation must be supported in another way anyway).

How to separate "groupware" from "CSCW"?: "...blanket categorization of an application is less helpful than considering how it is used in a particular setting." Ex.: Email used for broadcast vs. email used for communication.

Grudin expands the usual typology (Co-located and Remote People and Synchronous and Asynchronous for communication) into TIME(x-axis) (same, different but predictable, different and unpredictable) and PLAXE(y-axis) (same, different but predictable, different and unpredictable).

Groupware and cooperative work: Problems and prospects, Jonathan Grudin
BibTex: grudincwprospects

This article is very similar to Grudin's 8 Challenges paper, but in a less refined form. He does analyze email according to his criteria and explain why it succeeded. The article is outdated in that some organization were still unsure about email and how it would affect corporate work and policies.

Also makes an insightful parallel to the "hacker ethic" of everything should be freely available and notes how that took a hike as computers became more and more commercial.

Groupware and Social Dynamics: Eight Challenges for Developers, John Grudin
BibTex: grudingroupware

This article was written in the mid-90s detailing the problems which groupware faces which are not faced by single-user applications or organizational IS. He defines the eight challenges as:
  1. Disparity in work and benefit - apps require more work from those that the apps don't directly benefit (calendaring apps that benefit managers by requiring workers)
  2. Critical mass and Prisoner's Dilemma - never gets enough users at any one time to succeed or may never be to any individuals benefit to use
  3. Disruption of social process - may inadvertently trample on existing political structures, social norms, etc and demotivate people.
  4. Exception handling - All users work differently, so only handling work by the spec will almost always suit no one.
  5. Unobtrusive accessibility - Groupware should be built into apps that people already use, easily accessible but not onerous in use. (Coauthoring software that requires everyone to use a different editor vs. plug-ins for all editors supporting common tools.)
  6. Difficulty in evaluation - Evaluation for groupware very difficult so very hard for developers to learn from mistakes/previous apps failures
  7. Failure of intuition - Many development decisions rely heavily on informed intuition and since few designers and mangers have experience in groupware, this intuition is often lacking.
  8. Adoption process - requires more careful introduction than developers usually plan for.

The real, take-away point from this reading is that groupware apps require different techniques at virtually every stage of development - from conception to evaluation and must be recognized as very different from single-user apps or large, corporate infrastructure apps.

The intellectual challenge of CSCW: Bridging the gap between social requirements and technical feasibility, Mark Ackerman
BibTex: ackermangap

This paper defines the "social-technical gap" which is the gap between what is required socially and what we can do technically. This paper makes the case that this gap is large and very significant. Proposes to turn CSCW into a Simone science (why???).

Systematic Explorations - first-order approximations (systems which are successful but with known trade offs) a)do not satisfy all social requirements (Email and chat which leave out face-to-face context, e.g.) b) provide CMC components within app and allow people to make adjustments c) new computational mechanism to substitute for social mechanisms (blurred video indicates presence but not of whom) and d) creation of technical architectures that do not invoke social-technical gap.

Biggest focus is determining systematic methods for designing around gap. Don't explore blindly. Guiding questions:
  1. When can a system ignore nuance and context?
  2. When can we augment to make up for ignoring nuance and context?
  3. Can these benefits be quantified so we know when we're really adding worthwhileness?
  4. What research is promising to solve gap?

Computers, Networks and Work, Lee Sproull and Sara Kiesler
BibTex: sproullnetworks

Early paper written when networks were just beginning to proliferate. Highlights the differences between face-to-face communication and remote communication and speculates how this will change organizations and work.

ARPANET originally developed to allow researchers access to better, faster machines. However, everyone started using it for communication. They present several studies done by them and others that present early findings about e-communication.

For ex: network comm. (NC) is more egalitarian with everyone having a say. However, it takes longer, and in some cases, a decision is never reached. Also, high-status people tend to fade into the background (good and bad, bad if high-powered ppl know what they're doing, good if not).
NC also seems to bring out honesty. People more willing to identify negative things via email than face to face or paper.

V. interesting study done on posting questions to email lists/newsgroups. Who responds, how many respond to a query, how people know (if at all) people they're responding to.

Workflow Technology, Clarence A. Ellis
BibTex: ellisworkflow

This chapter describes workflow technology and related definitions, gives some examples, and looks at problems and research areas.

Workflow systems have 2 components: 1)workflow modeling component 2)run-time system. Workflow modeling is the theoretical component and the run-time system is the actual computer system which moves the components around.

  1. Workflow Management System - system that defines, manages, and exectures workflow processes through the execution of software.
  2. Process - predefined set of work steps and partial ordering
  3. Activity - boady of a work step of a process (elementary activity is basic unit of work)
  4. Script - specification of a process, and activity, or automatic part of manual activity
  5. Work Case (or Process Instance) - "job"
  6. Role - named designator ("order administrator" e.g.)
  7. Particpant - person, program, group, or entity that can fulfill roles to execute, be responsible for, or be associated with activities or processes
  8. Conceptual Architecture - overall diagram of work flow w/ decision nodes
  9. Concrete Architecture - computer architecture (client/server)

Mathmatical basis for this stuff is Information Control Net (ICN). 4-tuple G=(C,r,l,m).

Examples: IBM FlowMark, Action Workflow, Polymer.

  1. Exception Handling - true exception handling
  2. Interoperability - systems working together
  3. Dynamic Change - adjusting to changes while system up and running
  4. Workflow Transactions

Group editors, A. Prakash

group editors should:
  1. collaboration awareness (who's participating, where viewing, where editing)
  2. fault-tolerance and good response time
  3. concurrency control (pessimistic, optimistic)
  4. multi-user undo (consistency w/ user intentions) v. complex (undo-redo strategy)
  5. usable as single-user editor
  6. rich document structure

DistEdit: a distributed toolkit for supporting multiple group editors.Knister, M.J. and Prakash, A.
BibTex: knisterdistedit

DistEdit toolkit for building distributed editors. Authors modified both MicroEmacs and GNUEmacs to use DistEdit primitives. This was an early implementation supporting Master/Observer mode w/ observer having no editing capabilities. This version supported a "control-switch" mechanism (for relinquishing master/observer mode), "free-cursor" mode allowing observers to lock-step the cursor or not.

DistEdit Primitives:
  1. Update primitives: insert string, delete string, and replace string
  2. Curson position notification - ignored by browsers in free-cursor mode
  3. Control - control switching and lock-step toggling.

Uses broadcast facilities of ISIS

Very good diagram showing where primitives hook into broswers data and browsers output.

How people write together. Posner and Baecker
BibTex: posnerwrite

Lots of interviews about how people work in collaborative writing projects. Some of the hardest to interpret graphs ever!

General findings:
  1. expectations: group generated doc superior to alone
  2. authorship is complicated
  3. group size and composition affect outcome
  4. status of group members affect
  5. trust among participants v. important
  6. criticism can lead to success or not
  7. use of technology (writing tools) can be problematic
  8. communication tools seen as obstacles to smooth interactions

Developed a taxonomy including categories of
  1. Roles (writer, editor, consultant, reviewer)
  2. activities (brainstorm, research, initial plan, write, write most!, edit doc, final edit, review)
  3. doc. control methods (centrailized, relay, independent, shared)
  4. writing strategies (single writer, scribe, searate writing, joint writing)

How a group-editor changes the character of a design meeting as well as its outcome, Olson, Olson, Storrosten, and Carter
BibTex: olsongroupeditor

User study on how group editor changed design of group design project. MBAs as subjects, split into two groups. One group used ShrEdit, the other just the ususal tools (whiteboard, etc). Scored based on how completely output covered all aspects of task, ease of understaing ideas in document, quality of post office design.

No clear win on time spent on task (collab. not quicker)
ShrEdit groups judged higher quality
ShrEdit groups docs twice as long

Different amounts of time spent on subactivities. SchEdit spent much more time writing than discussing.

The action workflow approach to workflow management technology,Medina-Mora, Wiograd, Flores and Flores
BibTex: medinaaction

Workflow based on request/satisfaction cycle. "Language action"

Three different domains of business processes:
  1. Material processes: physical activity
  2. Information processes: exchange of info (physical comm or e-comm)
  3. Business processes: what do people do that matters?

Good diagrom (fig 1) showing loop from customer to performer with states of proposal (by C), agreement (by P), performance (by P), and satisfaction (by C). With some sort of goal/action being the target.

Good for noting breakdowns - when one stage is missing. Very similar to TCP/IP with info/ack cycle.

Example of staffing issues and interviewing candidates given. Architecture of system defined in detail.

Computer systems and the design of organizational interaction.Flores, F., Graves, M., Hartfield, B. and Winograd, T
BibTex: floresorginteraction

Longer look at The Coordinator and integration with Lotus. Structured around request/promise conversational interaction. Can respond with "counteroffer". Faciliatates negotiation (I disagree. Too formal. )

Genres of organizational communication: A structurational approach to studying communication and mediaYates, J. & Orlikowski, W.

Looks at different genres of communication from a physical viewpoint. Most try to organize (taxonomize) communication by intangible things (why it originates, what type of communciation occurs by it, etc). This follows the evolution of communication from a physical viewpoint. From formal business letters, to memos, to email. Examines why we can draw those conclusions (common elements such as subject line, to, from) and how communication has changed.

Email as a habitat: An exploration of embedded personal information management Ducheneaut, N. & Bellotti V.

Study of email practices at several corporations. Finds that email is used for a variety of things beyond simple communication. Lots of interviews and surveys. Found lots of problems in folder organization given the different ways different works wanted to organize (and subsequently find) email. Few choices given for email clients.

Informal workplace communication: what is it like and how might we support it. Whittaker, frohlich and Daly-Jones
BibTex: whitakercommunication

Looking at what people really do during their day. Tracked two people (communications mgr and commercial property valuation) at different companies to see what they did and how they leveraged informal workplace communication. Looked at basic properties (frequency, duration, pre-arranged, roles of documents, where occured) and structural properites (how opened/closed, ways people introduced and agree about context)

3% formal goodbyes
visual cues 21%
11% formal openings
used visual cues 32%

75% of time part. assumed prior context
only 15% in public areas

Frequency (of communication partners) had little affect on structure (use of context).

The Adoption and Use of "Babble": A Field Study of Chat in the Workplace Bradner, E., Kellogg, W., Erickson, T.
BibTex: bradnerbabble

Looks at deployment of Babble which is a chat client with IM features. Deployed to many different labs. Longitudinal study which looks at why adoption did or did not occur.

Client allowed users to waylay, unobtrusive broadcast, permanent record so used to "stay in loop".

For different groups, Babble enabled some things they didn't want. Didn't want to be waylaid by boss for fear of more work. Cliquish behavior.

Understanding adoption:
  1. critical mass
  2. social affordances - relationship between the properties of an object and the social characteristics of a group that enable particular kinds of interaction among members of that group.

Social, Individual and Technological Issues for Groupware Calendar Systems, Leysia Palen
BibTex: palengcs
Notes that most groupware eval and design approached from technologically-, individually- or socially-centered focus. Presents an in-depth look at Sun's "Calendar Manager" which is widely used at Sun and what made it succeed in spite of huge company growth.

Single user (individual) demands: diversity in form and function, what functions calendars used for, reconciling design affordances and needs.
Interpersonal (between user and group) needs: temporality artifacts (playing with time slots), peer judgment and inference, interpersonal boundary management/privacy (dr. appt on public calendar), meeting arranging and scheduling around meetings.
Socio-technical (group) needs from technology: development environment, impacts of early design choices, social impacts on evolving design, deployment/acceptance/niche-creation.

Worth looking at Orlikowski's "Duality of Technology" theory - how people use technology and adapt it. Organization Science 3(3), 398–427.
Important point that default settings cannot be overlooked in deployment.

Media spaces: Environments for informal multimedia interaction. Mackay, W.E.
BibTex: mackaymediaspaces
This paper uses the term "Media Spaces" which goes beyond just video/audio links to facilitate cscw at a distance. Defines "informal interaction" as a key goal. Analyzes RAVE, the EuroPARC media space setup. "Nodes" of video/audio at difference people's offices, common areas, meeting rooms, etc. Interface allows vphone (direct connection with explicit permission required), office share (long term open video and/or audio connection w/ explicit permission), glance (look at one person), sweep (look at predefined list of people), and background (like office share but w/ public spaces).
Also work on audio cues for letting people know when others were obtaining their status via glance, sweep, etc.

Details a specific implementation of a media space between Britian and the Netherlands called WAVE. Identified three distinct uses for the system:
  1. Show a solution
  2. Show a problem
  3. Cooperative problem solving

Also points out key ethical/privacy issues which are highly organization dependent. In general, users want
  1. Control (know who can see or hear them)
  2. Knowledge (when somebody is seeing/hearing)
  3. Intention (what intention of connection is)
  4. Intrusions (avoid connection that disturb work)

Re-place-ing space. Harrison & Dourish
BibTex: harrisonreplaceing

This paper makes the distinction between "space" and "place". They define space as the physical area and place as what happen in that area. Useful example is a church which is used for worship, community meetings, and an AA group. The physical space is the same, but the meaning is different to the different groups.

They then apply this definition to the concept of space in collaborative systems.

Features of space we can leverage in collaborative systems are:
  1. relational orientation - common things like "up" "down" "right" etc.
  2. proximity and action - pick up objects near us, mot far away.
  3. partioning - rooms or locations help us infer intentions
  4. presence and awareness - we structure our activity based on other's presence and our perception of what they're doing
These features also allow us to behave appropriately and frame our behavior in a (seemingly) rational way.

They look at place in media spaces. They determine that "placeness" is developed and maintained by the ways people use the system. It can't be designed. But it can be supported. They note that when people could not play with a system or configure it, they coudln't make it theirs so they gave up on it, essentially treating it like "space" rather than "place".

They also look at 3 different complex forms:
  1. placeful discussion w/o physical space: USENET, bulletin boards, etc
  2. placeful navigation w/o physical space: MUDS where people move to join a group to see what's going on
  3. hybrid spaces: compromises by physical and virtual space (avatar in a virtual meeting room representing you, eg)

Beyond being there. Hollan & Stornetta
BibTex: hollanbeyond

This paper addresses the standard audio/video connection as a way of "being there" and looks beyond that. They note that the "ideal" is generally regarded as face-to-face communication and that most collaborative systems try to reach that. However, they point out that f2f communication could be improved and we need to throw out preconceived notions about what goals systems shoudl strive for. They note 4 systems in development which are worthy of exploration:
  1. Ephemeral Interest Groups - mechanism for short-lived discussion in an electronic discussion space
  2. Meeting Others - electronic personas or profiles
  3. Anonymity - bring depth to conversation by allowing anonymity
  4. Semisynchronous Discussions - threaded conversations eliminate range of discussion because early trends change direction or dominate question.

Casablanca: Designing Social Communication Devices for the Home, Hindus, et al.
Bibtex: hinduscasablanca

Looks at ubicomp, media space applications for the home. Started with CommuteBoard. Expanded into RoomLink, InTouch, Presence Light. Focus groups. Revised into ScanBoard and Intentional Presence Lamp.

Main points:
  1. Intentionality is important - won't tolerate invasion of home w/o consent
  2. Sharing
  3. Expressiveness
  4. Homes distinct domain
  5. Media spaces can be used in many different ways
  6. Social communication is a suitable research topic
  7. express enough meaning, but not too much
  8. social interaction shoudl not be imposed (don't add social obligations)

Distance Matters, Gary Olson and Judy Olson
BibTex: olsondistance
This paper argues (by looking back at the last 10 years of groupware) that distance still does and always will matter. Based on past work, the stress 4 key findings:
  1. Common ground of users - common ground can be established on the fly from cues at that moment
  2. Coupling in work (tightly coupled work => strongly depends on workers, highly ambiguous, dynamic, non-routine) (loosely coupled => requires less frequent or less complicated interactions) (moderately coupled => some planning than individual work)
  3. Collaboation Readiness - shared tech. assumes people need it. Ready and willing to share. Culture of sharing and collaboration
  4. Technology Readiness - Orgs have infrastructure and climate for new and different technology.

They move on to detail coop. work in the future and what pure technology can and cannot overcome. They believe that technology will enable more rapid feedback, mulitple channel of communication, more nuanced information, and more customization for users. However they list a bunch of things that technology cannot overcome:
  1. Common ground, context, and trust
  2. Different time zones and perceptions of time
  3. Culture
  4. Interactions among factors and technology.

Useful list (can be taxonomy applied to different media) from Clark and Brennan (1991) of cues different media can provide:
  1. Copresence
  2. Visibility
  3. Audibility
  4. Contemporality - message received immediately
  5. Simultaneity - both send and receive
  6. Sequentiality - turns cannot be out of sequence
  7. Reviewability - review other's messages
  8. Revisability - can revise messages efore sending

Groupware in the wild: lessons learned from a year of virtual collocation, Olson & Teasley
BibTex: olsongroupwarewild

Planning, implentation, and use by real corp. of suite of groupware tools.
Need to look at work as a whole rather than just one application for one task.
  1. Analyze work and recommend groupware - analyzed work relationships (between people and between work), activity flowchart (flow of work, individuals, tools with annotations of tightly, moderately, or loosely coupled), existing technology assessment, recommendations for groupware for team.
  2. What worked? interviews to construct timelines, and results

  1. Tightly coupled work => people still traveled, didn't trust tech, individual meetings still a priority, value of being present to manipulate objects,
  2. Moderately coupled work => didn't use databases because mgr could track, mgr didn't enter info so no perceived value, db hard to get into/not automated
  3. Loosely couple => no results because coop tools not necessary

Colocated team took over more and more of project as it went on. Others grew loosely coupled.

General findings:
  1. Social responsibility and committment diminshed w/o f2f meetings
  2. important to consider suite of tools
  3. when virt. tools used but has problems, work evolves to be more loosely coupled.

Coupling designated by how immediately a response is needed and how muhc interaction for classification or persuasion.

Virtual environments at work: ongoing use of muds in the workplace, Churchill & Bly
BibTex: churchillworkmuds

Investigated use of muds outside of usual gaming/children context. Theorized that muds may work well because of easily understood spatial metaphor. Based on interviews randomly selected from larger group.
  1. muds suppport lightweight informal interactions
  2. allows both synchronous and asynchronous conversations
  3. also logs for review if set up to do so (not default)
  4. supports large groups
  1. Text based => removes social cues
  2. Cliquey => experts vs. novices
  3. Rich descriptions seen as unprofessional
  4. Multiple characters if want to be in more than one place led to secret identities and confusion
  5. Spatial layout and problems w/ metaphors (teleporting accidentally)
  6. Tech. doesn't support beyond text (cutting and pasting equations, eg)
  7. Screen real estate

Integration of shared workspace and interpersonal space for remote collaboration, Ishii

Details several projects for a rich sharing of workspaces. Includes not just computers, but drawings/handnotes. Unique system of overlays. Investigates importance of eye gaze and the nuances humans get from that. TeamWorkstation (overlay). Clearboard (shared workspace with video projections of people)

Tivoli: An Electronic Whiteboard for Informal Workgroup Meetings, Pedersen, McCall, Moran and Halasz
Bibtex: pedersentivoli

Beyond the chalkboard. Stefik et al.
BibTex: stefikbeyond

Colab (suite of tools) development at PARC. Term WYSIWIS (what you see is what I see). Busy signal for documents already in use.

Boardnoter - whiteboard (chalkboard)
Cognoter - preparing presentations collectively - supports brainstorming, organizing, and evaluating
Argnoter - pro/con software for proposals

Architecture for system discussed

Footprints: History-Rich Tools for Information Foraging,, Wexelblat and Maes
BibTex: wexelblatfootprints

Set of tools for mainting history of a digital object. Specifically looking at web, but could be applied to general file systems as well. Properties of interactio history systems:
  1. Proxemic vs. distemic (how close users feel to subject)
  2. Active vs. Passive (recorded w/ or w/o effort)
  3. Rate/Form of change (summary of accumulated history)
  4. Degree of Permeation (degree which interaction history is part of object)
  5. Personal vs. social (how many contribute to interaction history)
  6. Kind of information (loosely what (searching for value), who (authenticity, companionability), why (similarity of purpose), and how(naturalness))

Beyond bowling together: Sociotechnical capital. Paul Resnick
BibTex: resnickbowling

Idea of sociotechnical capital referring to "productive combinations of social relations and information and communication technology." Two approaches: reinvigorate orgs and activities which have been sources in the past or invent new forms of togetherness.

What makes up social capital:
  1. communication paths
  2. shared knowledge
  3. shared values
  4. shared sense of collective identity
  5. obligations and debts incurred prior to interaction
  6. roles and norms of behavior for people in roles
  7. trust

both residual of past actions and enabler of future interactions

How info. and communication technology affect social capital:
  1. remove barriers (positive or negative to social capital)
  2. expand interaction networks (pos or neg)
  3. restrict info flows (e.g. moderated list)
  4. managing dependencies (arrival notifications, reminders)
  5. maintain history (makes residual interactions w/ people visible)
  6. naming (make roles explicit e.g. send email to

Research areas:
  1. Enhanced group self-awareness (make more visible via lists)
  2. Brief interactions (rather than synchronous, co-located blocks of time)
  3. Maintaining ties while spending less time (email all people w/ one letter)
  4. support for large groups (recommender systems, distribute trust)
  5. Just in time introductions

  1. how to measure socio technical capital (activity based or attitude based)
  2. case studies
  3. codification of opportunity space and determining which features are productive

Groupware Toolkits for Synchronous Work, Saul Greenberg and Mark Roseman
BibTex: greenbergtoolkits

4 central pieces:
  1. Run-time architectures - centralized vs. replicated (concurrency control, synchronozation, communication and fault tolerance)
  2. groupware programming abstractions - multicast RPCs, events and notifiers, shared models and views,
  3. groupware widgets - groupware widgets of single user widgets and groupware specific widgets
  4. session managers

Unpacking privacy for a networked world, Palen, L. & Dourish, P.
Bibtex: palenprivacy

When Collaboration Doesn't Work. Guzdial, M., Ludovice, P., Realff, M., Morley, T., and Carroll, K.
BibTex: guzdialcoweb


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Last modified 29 March 2005 at 4:05 pm by Valerie Henderson